The nights are getting longer, and at this time of year many people feel a general sense of wanting to curl up indoors, draw the curtains, switch on the lights, play some music, and generally pile up the defences against the driving rain and the dark. It's not just that, though. I've felt for months -- maybe even a year, maybe more, hard to say, it's a slow-growing thing -- as though I was curling in on myself, pulling the duvet over my head, closing the door, slowly shutting down, fading to the little dot in the centre of the screen. I don't know why. I'm not particularly unhappy; I'm busy at work and stressed about some things but mostly still enjoying the job; I'm doing other things outside work -- outgoing things (singing, volunteering at Oxfam, going out and seeing friends) and quieter things (reading, playing piano, pottering around the house and the garden). The stress of house-moving and builders and so on was horrible and made me want to hide under a rock more than usual, and there are still far too many things to do round the house and not enough time/money to do them all... but on a day-to-day basis we can live with it just fine. We still don't have a kitchen really, but we can cook enough to keep ourselves fed, we're eating reasonably healthily, I get plenty of exercise from cycling and running, there is nothing objectively wrong, everything is basically okay.
And I feel like there's a big glass wall around me and it stops any of the noise coming in or getting out.
I talk to people all the time, I receive and send dozens of emails a day, I make phone calls, I even get up and go and talk to people at work (and in a department full of people who don't like social interaction that's mildly unusual). I go out in the evenings fairly often, I talk to friends in the pub, I phone my parents at least once a fortnight. Objectively I'm a functioning social being. But in my head I feel as though the volume is turned down to barely above zero. When I'm actually in the midst of social interaction I feel fine (apart from the usual occasional angst about whether people think I'm just faking it, whether I sound like an idiot ... in short all the usual minor anxieties that result from only having direct knowledge of your own thought processes and having to infer, guess, assume, or put up with not knowing other people's), but when I'm on my own... it's like the way phones these days seem to cut back to total silence, not even hiss on the line, when nobody's speaking. For a moment there you think you've been cut off, the line's gone dead, the mist has descended, the whole world outside your mind has vanished. Don't you? Maybe you just think "the line's gone a bit quiet". That's fine. In that case, think of it like going high enough up somewhere that the pressure in your ears goes funny and everything goes quieter until you yawn or swallow and suddenly it goes "pop" and you can hear again. What I'm talking about is the bit before the "pop". Mentally, metaphorically, it feels like that.
I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm just trying to write something every day, to keep the channels open, to check there's still someone on my end of the line, to flex the muscles. And (at the risk of sounding pre-emptively ungrateful) I don't want heaps of comments telling me how the GI diet or early nights or counselling or whatever diet/therapy/lifestyle change you're thinking of (no, "this one" isn't different) would help: that's not the point and I don't need help. The point -- insofar as there is one -- is just... wondering where it all goes. And whether I have any interest in finding it again.